Tori Murden McClure

Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row unassisted across the Atlantic Ocean, will bring her story of courage, perseverance and determination—mixed with a lot of humor—to Longwood University on Thursday, Feb. 9.

McClure’s memoir, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean, recounts her 1999 solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean, peppered with reflections on struggles, successes and frustrations in her life. As her rowboat, named American Pearl, is tossed around in the middle of the Atlantic, McClure confronts the challenges of life and emerges a changed person. The memoir has been widely celebrated and is available at the Longwood Bookstore.

A decade before her journey across the ocean, McClure broke ground as the first woman to reach the summit of Lewis Nunatek, a large rocky peak in Antarctica; she also made headlines in 1989 as the first woman to ski to the geographic South Pole.

Throughout her life, she has charted new ground and followed her own path of exploration and self-discovery, while remaining humble and seeking out ways to impact the lives of people around the world.

Dr. Rena Koesler, chair of the department of health, athletic training, recreation and kinesiology

“Tori McClure is a truly inspiring person,” said Dr. Rena Koesler, chair of the department of health, athletic training, recreation and kinesiology. “Throughout her life, she has charted new ground and followed her own path of exploration and self-discovery, while remaining humble and seeking out ways to impact the lives of people around the world. She is also a gifted educator committed to serving university students and will certainly be a popular speaker at Longwood.”

McClure will speak to several classes during the day Feb. 9, and will make a public presentation on resiliency, exploration and motivation at 7 p.m. in Blackwell Ballroom. Community members are invited to join Longwood students, faculty and staff at the free presentation.

Not only a renowned extreme athlete, McClure is also an accomplished lawyer and university administrator, having served as president of Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2010. She holds degrees from Smith College, Harvard University, University of Louisville and Spalding.

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